The Western Canon: The Books and School of the AgesHardback
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- Publisher: Warner Books
- Format: Hardback | 560 pages
- Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 33mm | 590g
- Publication date: 30 September 1995
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1573225142
- ISBN 13: 9781573225144
- Edition statement: Riverhead.
- Sales rank: 27,253
Harold Bloom explores our Western literary tradition by concentrating on the works of twenty-six authors central to the Canon. He argues against ideology in literary criticism; he laments the loss of intellectual and aesthetic standards; he deplores multiculturalism, Marxism, feminism, neoconservatism, Afrocentrism, and the New Historicism. Insisting instead upon "the autonomy of the aesthetic, " Bloom places Shakespeare at the center of the Western Canon. Shakespeare has become the touchstone for all writers who come before and after him, whether playwrights poets or storytellers. In the creation of character, Bloom maintains, Shakespeare has no true precursor and has left no one after him untouched. Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Ibsen, Joyce, and Beckett were all indebted to him; Tolstoy and Freud rebelled against him; and Dante, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Whitman, Dickinson, Proust, the modern Hispanic and Portuguese writers Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa are exquisite examples of how canonical writing is born of an originality fused with tradition. Bloom concludes this provocative, trenchant work with a complete list of essential writers and books - his vision of the Canon.
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Harold Bloom is a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. As "The Paris Review" has pointed out, "no critic in the English language since Samuel Johnson has been more prolific." His more than thirty books include "The Best Poems of the English Language," "The Art of Reading Poetry," and "The Book of J." He is a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the Academy's Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the International Prize of Catalonia, and the Alfonso Reyes Prize of Mexico. Alfred Kazin has said, "Bloom is all literature, (he) positively lives it," and "The New York Times" called him "the most original literary critic in America." He lives in New Haven and New York.
Table of contents
Preface and Prelude I. On the Canon 1. An Elegy for the Canon II. The Aristocratic Age 2. Shakespeare, Center of the Canon 3. The Strangeness of Dante: Ulysses and Beatrice 4. Chaucer: The Wife of Bath, the Pardoner, and Shakespearean Character 5. Cervantes: The Play of the World 6. Montaigne and Molière: The Canonical Elusiveness of the Truth 7. Milton's Satan and Shakespeare 8. Dr. Samuel Johnson, the Canonical Critic 9. Goethe's Faust, Part Two: The Countercanonical Poem III. The Democratic Age 10. Canonical Memory in Early Wordsworth and Jane Austen's Persuasion 11. Walt Whitman as Center of the American Canon 12. Emily Dickinson: Blanks, Transports, the Dark 13. The Canonical Novel: Dickens's Bleak House, George Eliot's Middlemarch 14. Tolstoy and Heroism 15. Ibsen: Trolls and Peer Gynt IV. The Chaotic Age 16. Freud: A Shakespearian Reading 17. Proust: The True Persuasion of Sexual Jealousy 18. Joyce's Agon with Shakespeare 19. Woolf's Orlando: Feminism as the Love of Reading 20. Kafka: Canonical Patience and "Indestructability" 21. Borges, Neruda, and Pessoa: Hispanic-Portuguese Whitman 22. Beckett...Joyce...Proust...Shakespeare V. Cataloging the Canon 23. Elegiac Conclusion Appendixes: A. The Theocratic Age B. The Aristocratic Age C. The Democratic Age D. The Chaotic Age: A Canonical Prophecy Index